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June 27, 2011: A Model of Belgium Agriculture: Benefits to Northwest Ohio

    In February 2010, a bridge was formed between northwest Ohio's agricultural industry and Belgium when University of Toledo researchers and administrators, USDA-ARS personnel, and members and staff from Maumee Valley Growers toured Belgium agricultural operations to learn about their production and distribution system.  As a follow up to that visit, the University of Toledo Office of Research and Development and the Office of Urban Affairs hosted Luc Peeters, Manager of External Relations and Sustainability for Mechelen Auctions to tour northwest Ohio farms and greenhouses and share his advice on making improvements to the local agricultural market.  Mr. Peeters also led a seminar titled, "Greenhouse Crop Production, Distribution and Marketing in Belgium" on June 27 at the Toledo Botanical Gardens.
    Approximately 50 people, including members of the USDA-ARS Application Technology Research Unit, attended Mr. Peeters' presentation, where he explained the agricultural model used in Belgium consisting of a cooperative of more than 2,500 producers.  The auction houses in Belgium set standards in prices, packaging, and quality control and deliver only the highest quality, locally produced vegetables to buyers.  Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada and Representative Marcy Kaptur were also in attendance and introduced a lively discussion on how a system like Belgium's might be feasible here in the northwest Ohio market to maximize production and promote local sales.
    More information on the Mechelen Auctions can be found at their website:

Luc Peeters, Manager of External Relations and Sustainability for Mechelen Auctions discussed the agricultural model used in Belgium.

Mechelen Auctions, located in Belgium.

(Left to right): Lucas County Commissioner Carol Contrada, Matthew Krause, Luc Peeters, Charles Krause, Representative Marcy Kaptur, and Wade Smith discussed opportunities for northwest Ohio after the presentation.